Numbering more than 80 million, millennials already make up more than half of the global workforce. This digital-first audience represents the first generation that doesn't know a world without the internet and mobile phones. In PWC's study, “Workforce of the Future,” researchers note that millennials have strong expectations of their employers, and those expectations can be neatly laid over their expectations of a corporate intranet.
Keep in mind, however, that these expectations aren’t necessarily exclusive to millennials. Regardless of their age, individuals who comprise the modern workforce have very specific things they need from their employers—many of which can, again, be achieved via a powerful, modern intranet solution.
A good intranet experience informs, provides transparency and empowers teams to collaborate and connect across time zones and locations. But a great intranet experience serves as the backbone of your digital workplace by providing a one-stop solution that improves communication and truly nurtures your most important and valuable audience: your employees.
As David Gang, CEO and co-founder of Perfect Sense, noted in a recent webinar, “Your employees want to feel appreciated and know that they have a voice. They want to understand the vision and mission that drives the company’s direction. If they are valued in that way, they become empowered. If they’re more empowered, they’re more engaged and more productive.”
“I want everyone to feel excited about working at Perfect Sense,” said Gang. “Your intranet is the communications platform that powers that energy.”
To foster a workforce that feels appreciated, heard, empowered, engaged and productive, company leaders should take into account the following six things employees want from their employers—and how each can be complemented by a modern intranet solution.
1. Expectations for Communication
Employees have long valued straightforward, relevant, informative communication from their employers. But today, they also expect lines of communication to be open both ways. With an intranet, companies can improve internal communications by both exposing colleagues to executive viewpoints and spotlighting employee achievements.
As Meredith Rodkey, Perfect Sense’s VP of Platform, noted in the webinar, “The goal is for the intranet to encourage two-way communication. It’s not just a CEO delivering news to the employees. It’s a new hire giving feedback to the HR department about the onboarding process; it’s a VP in marketing commending a junior engineer about an impressive contribution to an initiative; it’s a project manager sharing a new approach that’s been successful.”
“Ultimately, the goal is for the employees to talk to each other, to talk to executives and to talk to customers,” explained Rodkey.
To effectively engage all of your stakeholders and empower them to contribute content back to the experience, executive leaders should feel comfortable easily updating the intranet with information and perspectives in a timely fashion. Similarly, colleagues should have access to a variety of storytelling types, including articles, live blogs, live streams, galleries, videos, press releases and more. Editorially curated pages and sections that showcase employee-generated content as well as viewpoints of the leadership team create a powerful brand storytelling vehicle that your entire workforce will rely on to access and share important information both internally and with your external partners.
“Think of your company as three interwoven communities: the employee base, the wider surrounding community and your customer base,” said Rodkey. “The best intranet will tell a cohesive story of how your employees work together each day to make a positive impact for your customers and the broader community. If your intranet successfully tells the story of those three groups, you can foster a true sense of pride and cohesion in the company, while driving awareness of your company’s impact on the community.”
2. Training and Development
Relevant job training and skills development reflect a company's long-term investment in an employee. A corporate intranet both facilitates and accelerates onboarding and training. This virtual workspace allows new hires to easily obtain required paperwork and forms, access e-learning, view org charts and benefit from the shared knowledge and best practices of the corporate community.
Providing your workforce with access to educational and professional development opportunities via your intranet shows that you’re recognizing and nurturing your employees’ needs. Placing these in context of the company’s mission and values creates a sense of community and fosters company pride.
3. Career Advancement
Marketing new positions to current employees saves the company money. Personalization (including access and permissions) allows you to target the right employee with the right opportunity at precisely the right time.
Remember, an intranet isn’t a one-size-fits-all experience. Instead, it should allow you to use defined personalization modules to serve content that applies only to specific employee audiences. Just as it can enable you to remind new hires to enroll in benefits programs, your intranet can notify regional employees of a recently opened job req in their location.
Your employees are unique, especially as they advance through their careers—and their intranet experience should be uniquely personalized to their place in the organization. Create roles directly in the CMS, or leverage attributes from profiles in your existing authentication set-up. Powerful permissions allow you to control who sees what, presenting a valuable opportunity to nurture an employee’s career growth via one-to-one marketing.
Your intranet is one of the most powerful vehicles you have to show your colleagues how much you value them—through each and every step of their career advancement.
4. Experience Matters
The content experience of your intranet should be powered by the same tools and templates used by media publishers and published with the same commitment to customer experience.
As Rodkey noted, “We work frequently with media publishers who produce news daily for their readers, and we always recommend that our intranet publishers follow that model—and think about their audiences the same way.”
“Treat your employees like an audience eager for news about the company, their coworkers and initiatives,” said Rodkey. “Publishing an intranet experience with the same care and consideration that you give to your external audience gives your employees a reason to return every day. It turns your intranet into the company’s page one.”
As is the case with external communications, when communicating with employees via your intranet, it’s essential to: be timely (share news and stories with your employees first); remain authentic (speak in a unified and consistent company voice); publish efficiently (reach the right people, with the right information, at the right time); and distribute effectively (allow access from anywhere your employees are, on whatever device is important to them).
What’s more, a modern intranet empowers brand advocacy, serving as one of the most effective brand storytelling tools you have at your disposal. Help colleagues tell a meaningful, consistent story of your brand by keeping them up-to-speed on the latest news or additions to products and services. Help them understand how to talk about who you are and what you do by providing centralized, approved collateral images and branding information. Finally, bolster enthusiasm via the intranet by making your workforce a part of the process with a “behind-the-scenes” perspective and one-to-one marketing.
Your organization’s employees are your most important stakeholders, and they have the potential to be your most passionate brand evangelists. According to Rodkey, “No one is better suited to be a brand advocate than the people who work at the company.”
5. Easy Access
Employees expect frictionless access to the essential resources, documents and files they need. An intranet should provide an organized portal to all pertinent information, presented and maintained in a way that helps you build and foster a knowledge-based culture at scale.
The most effective intranets don’t merely dump page-after-page of difficult-to-parse information. Instead, they feature clear prioritization, a clean and streamlined user experience, and timely, relevant content—all with clear governance and the right level of integration.
First and foremost, employees expect a secure environment through which sensitive information is delivered. Next, make it easy and efficient for employees to access the content they need via a single-entry point where all employees can get the information they rely on to start each workday. Then, personalize roles and permissions based on specific employee needs and functions, therefore delivering an intranet experience that is relevant to specific roles throughout the company.
To ensure employees can easily access the content they need, an intranet should check the following “best practices” boxes: remove all barriers to content production, allowing for more frequent and consistent publishing; apply the structure and taxonomy best-suited to your company; ensure content is easily discoverable via a search-based platform; empower users to securely draft, edit, approve and publish a variety of content types; collect employee-generated content via uploading capabilities; and offer a robust rich text editing feature that supports copy/paste from email and word processing tools, live preview functionality and collaborative options like track changes and commenting.
6. Shared Values
Perhaps more than ever, today’s employees want to feel inspired by the work they do, and they are driven to create meaningful solutions that benefit not just their company, but society as a whole.
As such, your intranet should inspire employees, create a sense of community, foster company pride and empower everyone in the organization to think about the bigger picture to which their daily work contributes.
An intranet can be instrumental in creating a welcoming and dynamic corporate culture. It represents a shared corporate ecosystem where everyone should feel comfortable contributing, commenting and connecting with others. An intranet that is active and engaged is an effective intranet—and one that reflects a corporate culture of passionate, forward-thinking individuals.
When it comes to shared values and creating an engaged corporate culture, “Our employees understand our company’s mission and values on day one,” said Gang. “[Perfect Sense] has always been a company that believes in giving back. When we think about giving back, we believe it’s ‘living in your shoes’—whether that’s a customer, an employee or society.”
How Brightspot Can Revolutionize Your Corporate Intranet
Perfect Sense, the team behind Brightspot, has spent more than a decade partnering with hundreds of customers—many of whom have been underwhelmed by the stagnant, outdated intranets they had in place. After learning about pain points associated with these portals and discussing ways to transform them into essential and engaging platforms that are used by employees each day, we developed Brightspot Intranet.
“The majority of intranets we see out there are not true user experiences. They’re a list of links to other resources,” said Rodkey. “There’s no storytelling, and there’s no enthusiasm—both of which should be at the heart of an intranet. Companies should want their employees to feel excited about working there—and being able to tell that story, enthusiastically and also easily, is part of the overall user experience that Brightspot gives to intranet publishers.”
Brightspot’s powerful out-of-the-box intranet platform integrates with your other software and services, requires minimal involvement from your IT department, and comes with all the preconfigured templates and components needed to engage your workforce and increase productivity. The following features help set Brightspot’s intranet solution apart:
- Seamless authentication with your existing systems and single sign-on
- Employee profile templates, in which both public and private user profiles are supported
- Powerful and flexible personalization and permissions
- A variety of content types, such as articles, galleries, videos (including live streaming with AWS Elemental), press releases and images
- Commenting and UGC functionality, including moderation of content
- Third-party integrations with Dropbox, Box, Slack, Google Drive, YouTube, Vimeo, Amazon Rekognition and many others
- Powerful federated search, allowing busy editors to find exactly what they’re looking for, without having to ever leave the CMS
- Flexible storytelling templates, including article, listicle, gallery, quiz and live blog
Your corporate intranet has the potential to be the backbone of your digital workplace, providing valuable information that’s relevant to your entire employee base and fostering meaningful and inspiring company-wide collaboration. When you’re ready to engage your workforce and accelerate productivity with a new or reimagined intranet, consider a flexible, cost-effective, out-of-the-box platform like Brightspot Intranet.